I mostly write about photography on my blog, but today I’m writing a little about my career and what I do in the U.S. Navy. But don’t click away just yet, as you can see by the image on the left of the page, I’m not leaving out photography.
On a day-to-day basis, I am a Fire Controlman in the Navy. By definition, I operate, maintain, and repair weapon systems. I’ve even been around long enough now that I supervise those performing the job described above. Am I a fire fighter? Yes and no. At sea, there is no fire department to call and every Sailor on board any ship must be trained to fight fires, repair damage, and contain and stop flooding to keep their ship afloat. The reason that the USS Cole (DDG 67) is afloat today is because of the Sailors that were on board the day she was attacked. They saved their ship. But specifically, Fire Controlmen operate, maintain, and repair weapon systems. Damage Controlmen are the Navy’s fire fighters.
Our ship recently conducted it’s Combat Systems trials to test out the performance of it’s weapon systems and ensure that they worked as advertised. I was presented the opportunity to get topside and shoot some photos during a missile firing that I wasn’t involved in. So I grabbed my D90 and headed topside. Thus the image you see above.
We also had a team of photogs and videographers on board to capture the action. These guys work for NAVAIR and they brought all of their Gucci gear on board. They captured the image you see to the left. To get stills, they had a total of 6 Canon 1D Mark IIs and they had 7 killer Sony HD video cameras, including a high-speed video camera. They did a fantastic job!
Check out the video they put together below!
One of my Shipmates asked me if I would like to work for an organization like that doing what they do. While it would seem cool, I don’t think it would be as fulfilling as one might think. For starters, there is a lot of luck involved in getting these shots. The missiles and projectiles from our weapon systems move insanely fast and capturing them as stills and video can be somewhat luck.
For example, the 1D Mark IIs are triggered with a TTL cable trigger system (our AN/SPY-1D radar system renders Pocket Wizards completely useless) and when missiles are about to go, the guy with the trigger blindly squeezes and prays. (Kind of like an insurgent with an AK-47.) All of the cameras are set up on heavy duty tripods and are weighted down with sand bags. The 1D Mark IIs are housed in small Pelican cases that have been customized with pieces of plexiglass and a few other items. The video cameras are housed in a custom metal case with plexiglass on the end with the lens. In between firings a team member goes out with Windex and paper towels to clean the housings. (Pretty sure I’m positive the new guy has to do that.)
Personally, I would get bored with that job in a very short time. I would rather CREATE images based on ideas that I have come up with in my head. Doing the same setup for the same subject over and over and over again would burn me out. (On the other side of the coin, playing with cameras, glass, and Photoshop all day would keep me moderately happy.) There are a couple of firsts every now and then, as the photo above captures the first time that the U.S. Navy has ever fired four missiles simultaneously at four targets during Combat Systems trials.
So there you have it… a little bit more information about what I do on a daily basis, other than photography. I hope you enjoyed the insight on my life as a U.S. Navy Sailor. Have a great day and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for your regularly scheduled photography post.